The summer’s behind us, and we’re swinging into High Season, Palm Springs! And nothing is more Palm Springs than the fabulous philanthropic and cultural galas that adorn our season. Here’s a very special one that just came across my desk. Hope to see you there! XOKate
Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert will hold their 50th Anniversary Gala on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at the Palm Springs Art Museum. The event will highlight the Guild’s 50 years of cultural impact through promoting and supporting opera appreciation and performances in the Coachella Valley. Part of the evening’s festivities will be a special event at the museum’s Annenberg Theater – a performance by America’s Got Talent’s favorite “manband,” VOX. The four singers of VOX are a classically trained vocal quartet specializing in opera, musical theater and crossover music. Tickets are $500 (includes reception and VIP seating at show and dinner), $350, (includes reception, show and dinner) and $195 (reception and show only). Tickets and event sponsorship may be purchased by calling 760-325-6107. Proceeds from the Gala will benefit the Guild’s student and youth education and outreach programs.
The event begins at 5 PM with an elegant reception, including a special signature cocktail, in the museum’s North Sculpture Garden, catered by Spencer’s Restaurant. At 6 PM, immediately after the reception, guests will proceed into the museum’s Annenberg Theater to experience the VOX performance. Following the performance, guests will proceed to the museum’s Atrium and conclude the evening with a special celebratory dinner, also catered by Spencer’s.
“For the last fifty years, the Palm Springs Opera Guild has enriched the lives of residents and visitors to the Coachella Valley,“ said Bruce Johansen, Opera Guild President. “Our last five decades of programs have enabled more than 100,000 area school children to learn about opera and classical music. In addition, our annual Opera in the Park regularly attracts 5,000 people to this popular event. Our Vocal Competition, now in its 34th year, has showcased more than 150 emerging opera stars, many who have gone on to have spectacular careers. We could not be more proud of the work we have done and continue to do, and we are delighted to celebrate these accomplishments at our Fiftieth Anniversary Gala.”
A recent addition to the music scene, the four founding members of VOX got their start in 2015 in Season 10 of the popular show America’s Got Talent. After their audition, judge Howie Mandel described the group as “the classiest boy band around.” Since then, the group has performed in many locations. It consists of Tenor Arnold Geis (currently spending the 2017-2018 season as a young artist in the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program with Washington National Opera), Tenor Ben Lee (currently performing in the Cincinnati area in performances of Rossini’s La cenerentola and Handel’s Ariodante), Baritone DeMar Neal (who will perform a concert tour in late 2017 and early 2018 of Schubert’s masterwork Die schöne Müllerin in North and South Carolina) and Baritone Kevin Blickfeldt (who will appear in recital in the fall of 2017 as part of the Professional Artist Series at El Camino College in Los Angeles).
Fifty Years of Cultural Impact
Since 1968, Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert has made a significant impact on the cultural life of the Coachella Valley. Now in its 50th year, the organization is celebrating some significant milestones and is paying homage to its rich tradition of offering top-notch opera and other cultural events to its members and the entire community.
Over the years, the organization sponsored or produced a variety of important, entertaining, and well-loved cultural and fundraising events, including the annual Palm Springs Vocal Competition (an annual program since 1983 that enables eight emerging young opera singers to compete for various prizes and have their performances judged by a distinguished panel of experts), Opera in the Schools (an annual program that educates youth in the greater Palm Springs area that last spring introduced operatic music to more than 15,000 students), the beloved Opera in the Park (since 1999, a free annual concert of opera arias that draws people from all over Southern California to celebrate great opera music) and the Prime Time Outreach series (a free program featuring compelling lectures and performances at the Rancho Mirage Public Library).
Significant attendees or honorees at Opera Guild events included former first lady Mamie Eisenhower, Lily Pons, Ginger Rogers, Dolores Hope, Kirk and Anne Douglas, Carol Burnett, Frank and Barbara Sinatra, “Sixty Minutes” reporter Morley Safer, Dinah Shore, Palm Springs Mayor Frank Bogert, Anne Jeffreys, Cesar Romero, Toni Tennille, Nancy Wilson, Patty and Arthur Newman, Peggy Cravens, Donna MacMillan, and Helene Galen.
Some of the many famous stars to perform in Opera Guild-sponsored productions include Marni Nixon (the voice of Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady”), Beverly Sills, James McCracken, Renata Scotto (winner of the 1977 Peabody for her appearance on the first live telecast “Live from Lincoln Center”), Rita Moreno, Roberta Peters, Licia Albanesi, Victoria de Los Angeles, Nicolai Gedda, and Jerry Herman.
Palm Springs Opera Guild of the Desert is a 501 (c)(3) cultural organization which works to encourage and support young singers with financial assistance and performance opportunities and to promote opera in the community through student and adult Outreach programs. Their significant community programming includes the annual Dorothy Nocita Memorial Vocal Competition, the Annual Gala, Opera in the Park, and the annual Opera in the Schools program. For more information about Palm Springs Opera Guild, visit palmspringsoperaguild.org.